"I Got An Epidural, and Now My Hair Is Falling Out!" Debunking the Postpartum Hair Loss MythTamara Floyd
As a natural hair blogger, I have unofficially but officially taken on the role of hair mythbuster. I cringed a little after reading this:
“With my son, my edges fell out completely … Is anyone able to offer advice on strengthening them and combatting the epidural after-effects?”
As a mother of a 20-month-old, I remember the epidural-associated guilt very well. I was rushed into the OR for an emergency C-section. Although it wasn’t anyone’s fault, I felt deeply disappointed that medical intervention was needed. I wanted to reassure this mom that she didn’t have to battle this guilt. The epidural was not the culprit. Hair loss or thinning edges after baby is completely natural. Fortunately, it’s also not permanent.
I had few postpartum fears, but postpartum hair loss was one of them. With my curly hair, the amount of shedding didn’t seem bad; it’s easy for shedded hair to get lost in the curls. But I did notice thinning edges. Today, everything has completely grown back.
Epidurals do not cause postpartum hair loss; hormones do. According to Dr. Kari Williams, a trichologist (she specializes in hair and scalp health), postpartum hair loss is better known as Telogen Effluvium. It’s linked to the hair cycle and is triggered by metabolic or hormonal stress and medications. Therefore, new mothers aren’t the only one who suffer from this condition. People who have had surgical operations, high fevers, stopped the use of birth control pills, severe illnesses, crash diets and other forms of stress on the body can experience this form of hair loss.
In the hair cycle, the active growing phase is called anagen and can last up to three years. The resting/shedding phase of the hair cycle is telogen and this phase lasts about three months. Telogen hairs rest in the hair follicle until they are pushed out by the growth of a new anagen hair. About 10% of hair follicles are in the telogen phase at one time. During pregnancy, more hair follicles enter into anagen simultaneously. The abundance of nutrients in the body and the increase in hormonal activity can be held responsible for the growth of long, luscious hair. Typically, three to six months after delivering the baby, the body experiences a form stress that cause a large number of hair follicles to enter into the telogen phase at once. This creates hair loss throughout the scalp and apparent thinning around the hairline for most women.
The good news is, once the body is back in balance the hair will begin to grow back and your hair cycle will regulate. This takes about six months. You can minimize postpartum hair loss by practicing styling techniques that reduce physical stress on the hairline.